Ivan the Terrible Looks Terrible Right Now

Ivan the Terrible

Iliya Repin. Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581. (1885)

The press service of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia, reported on Saturday, May 26, of the vandal attack on Friday evening that damaged the painting of Ilya Repin (1844 – 1930) “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581”. 

The famous painting was completed by Russian artist and naturalist Ilya Yefimovich Repin in 1885

Ilya Repin

 

“As a result of the blows, the thick glass that protected the work from fluctuations in the temperature-humidity regime was broken,”  the gallery’s officials said in a statement.

“The painting is badly damaged, the canvas is ripped in three places in the central part…. The falling glass also damaged the frame. […] Luckily, the most valuable images, those of the faces and hands of the tsar and prince were not damaged”.

Ivan Fragment37-year-old man from the town of Voronezh was arrested by police shortly after the incident. The suspect declared that he had acted the way he did because of the falsehood of the depiction of historical facts on the canvas — his words in my translation.

Russia Painting Vandalized

Tretyakov Gallery

By preliminary estimation, the restoration of the painting might take a few years.

 

In 1885, upon its completion, the painting made a furor both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.  Everyone whose opinion counted, admitted to having an utterly depressing impression both during and after observing the painting. The ladies fainted and had hysterics. Children cried inconsolably.  Repin’s masterpiece was deemed harmful and by the order of the sovereign was banned from being exhibited.

Pavel Tretyakov, businessman, patron of art, collector and philanthropist (who gave his name to the Tretyakov Gallery) acquired the painting. It took awhile but the wrath was changed to mercy and  the permission to exhibit the canvas in the gallery was granted.

The recent assassination of the famous painting was not the first one.  On January 16, 1913,  “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581”, a rather well known icon painter, crying out “Enough blood!” lunged on the painting with a knife and in three strokes pierced the faces of Ivan and his son. The madman was restrained and confined to the mental institution. After learning about the incident, the curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, the kindest and beloved by all  Yegor Khruslov, committed suicide by trowing himself under the speeding train.Repin Damage to IvanThis is a newspaper article where the incident was first reported. Titled Damage to the painting by I. Repin carries the photographs of the damaged part of the painting, of the artist and the small inset is the photo of Abram Balashov, the vandal.

Interesting that the public opinion of the time was firmly on the side of the madman! Crazy Balashov was declared a victim of Repin’s “bloody, disturbing, violent” masterpiece.  Such is the power of art.

Mysteriously and, well, terribly, Ivan the Terrible affected the fate of Repin’s models who selflessly set for his Ivan the Terrible.  Repin was very particular and obsessively picky in choosing his models. Miasoedov and BlambergArtist Grigory Myasoyedov and composer Pavel Blaramberg were asked to pose as Ivan the Terrible.  Grigory Myasoedov  once in anger nearly killed his little son, also named Ivan.
GarshinOne of models for the head of the Prince was writer Vsevolod Garshin with his permanently teary eyes. A fragile and vulnerable person, the author of many wonderful fairy tales, he fell into a severe depression and during one of the anxiety attacks jumped from the fourth floor into the stairwell. He died in agony after five days, only 33 years old. Repin said about his choice of Garshin as his model, “I was struck by an utter doom written on Garshin’s face: he had the face of a man fated to perish before his time, which was excatly what I need for my prince.

 

Soon thereafter, the terrible ailment struck the artist himself. Incongruously, his right arm withered away. Until the end of his life Repin had to paint and write with his left hand. The artist’s contemporaries recall that Repin could not even cross himself properly.

And, in conclusion, while hoping sincerely that Ivan the Terrible will be restored to its bloody, violent, mystical glory, here is the poster where Repin’s Ivan the Terrible behaves terribly toward the Russian Venus by Boris Kustodiyev. 

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Hole In His Skull


Magnificent digital creations such as Digital Grotesque featured in my previous post, is impressive, indeed. Breathtaking. Here is a recent story of advancement in 3D printing on a much smaller scale. Smaller, yes, however, by no means less impressive:

Israel. Jerusalem. Shaare Zedek Medical CenterThe patient is a young man, 21. Diagnosis: severe form of meningitis, an acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain. The disease caused a life-threatening increase of intracranial pressure.

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DrJohn Winestone

Senior Neurosurgeon  DrJohn Winestone examined the patient and confirmed that the young man suffers from a rare form of infection. The chance of survival is extremely low. Medications did not help, the patient’s condition sharply  worsened, he lost consciousness, gradually plunged into a coma and was hooked up to a Life Support System. Emergency surgery resulted in removing of a skull bone 15 centimeters (5.90551 inches) in diameter to stop further elevation of intracranial pressure. It ultimately saved the patient’s life. But what about his skull?

When the patient’s condition stabilized, experts decided to turn to volumetric printing to create a prosthetic skull bone. The unique surgery — an implantation of a 3D-printed part of the skull to replace a lost bone — was a success. At present, the patient’s condition is quite satisfactory.

It was for the first time in the history of medicine that the volumetric printing was used to create a skull bone. It should be noted that previously, 3D-printing was used primarily in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

 

Grave Matters

relicSince the early Middle Ages, relics of the saints,  preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial, considered extremely valuable. After all, they work miracles, protect local communities and — not a  small matter — they attract pilgrims. In one way or another, these tremendous benefits turn into money, prosperity and profit in  BuddhismChristianityIslamHinduismShamanism, and many other religions.

St_MartinBishop of Tours, enthusiastically ordering the destruction of pagan temples, altars and sculptures, and later known as Martin of Tours , was a rather decrepit man. Still, he found strength to wander between the two cities. Residents of these towns have long been monitoring his moves, waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for his demise in order to acquire his remains. At times, the patience on both sides run so low that the “good Christians” of both places were ready to kill the bishop. Martin died in the village between these cities. The villagers, on whom such luck had unexpectedly fallen, managed to deceive both cities, hiding the body and inventing a convincing alibi. St Martin’s shrine in France became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.Elizabeth of Hungary.jpgElizabeth of Thuringia, a Hungarian princess, was so virtuous that no one doubted her posthumous transfer to the rank of saints. When she died in 1231 at the age of 24, good people of faith simply tore her body into pieces, only to put their hands on their very own chunk of saintly flesh. Speak about “tangible”!

Saint_RomualdRomuald was revered as a saint in his lifetime.  In his old age, in a small monastery Val di Castro, he mentioned of his wish to move away and settle in another city. The prospect of losing Romuald, particularly his soon-to-be remains, in favor of some unworthy neighbors, did not sit well with his comrades. Overcome with not so saintly worries, they conferred and decided that murder was their only option to keep Romuald for themselves. Unholy brothers promptly proceeded to exercise this very option. Thus Romuald was murdered… God only knows how mercifully.

Of this and more in Barley, N. (2006). : Encounters with Death Around the World. New York : Henry Holt & Company.

Encounters with Death Around the World

Within the multitude of attitudes toward grieving, Grave Matters reveals that after death the body may be preserved or obliterated, transformed into furniture, or eaten. In this cross-cultural study of how people lend meaning to death, Nigel Barley uses autobiographical vignettes and a careful blend of ethnography and comparative theories to reflect on today’s mortuary practices and issues.

Silent Reading

ReadingIn his autobiography Confessions, written at the end of the 4th century AD, St Augustine of Hippo writes how utterly stunned he was when he observed Bishop Ambrose of Milan reading a book. Ambrose’s mouth was closed, his lips didn’t move. It was a miracle!

In those days readers habitually moved their fingers, slowly, along the lines, pronouncing aloud every word. It took humankind another 500 years to develop silent reading ability to the level that it became a norm.

 

World Writers Day

Paper_Sculptures_Jeff_Nishinaka1.jpgThe World Writers Day is celebrated annually on March 3 since 1986. It was established by the International Congress of PEN Club.

The International PEN Club is a worldwide association of writers founded in London in 1921, in order to promote friendship and intellectual support among writers from all the corners of the world. The name for the organization was created from the first letters of the words “Poets, Essayists and Novelists,” but indeed it includes writers of all the forms of literature, including journalists and historians.

The idea to create such organization belongs to the English writer Catherine Amy Dawson Scott and its first president was John Galsworthy. Nowadays the International PEN Club has its centers in over 130 countries. The International PEN Club is the oldest global literary organization that emphasizes the role of literature in the development of the world culture, fighting for the liberty of expression.

Ikigai. The Craft of Happiness

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Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being“. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

Ikigai is composed of 2 Japanese words:

  • Iki referring to the concept of life;
  • Kai, roughly, means realization of one’s expectations and hopes.

The Japanese island of Okinawa is said to be home to the largest population of centenarians in the world. Any wonder ikigai has its origins in Okinawa?

While researching the topic of ikigai, the authors of a new book on the movement,   Héctor García and Francesc Miralles lived among the people of Okinawa.

Héctor García is a citizen of Japan, where he has lived for over a decade, and of Spain, where he was born. A former software engineer, he worked at CERN in Switzerland before moving to Japan, where he developed voice recognition software and the technology needed for Silicon Valley startups to enter the Japanese market. He is the creator of the popular blog kirainet.com and the author of A Geek in Japan, a #1 bestseller in Japan.

Francesc Miralles is an award-winning author who has written a number of bestselling self-help and inspirational books. Born in Barcelona, he studied journalism, English literature, and German, and has worked as an editor, a translator, a ghost-writer, and a musician. His novel Love in Lowercase has been translated into twenty languages.

The book claiming to teach you the ways of achieving happiness and a longer life

In their book, Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Garcia and Miralles discern the ten golden rules of Okinawans’ ikigai.  It seems so easy to find one’s own ikigai!  (Note: The images below are not from the book.)
The Ten Rules of Ikigai:

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 1. Stay active and don’t retire

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2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life

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3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full

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 4. Surround yourself with good friends

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5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise

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6. Smile and acknowledge people around you

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7. Reconnect with nature

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8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.

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9. Live in the moment

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10. Follow your ikigai

Top 100 Living Geniuses of 2007

robert the 1.jpgIn my previous post about the Ukrainian artist Ivan Marchuk, it was noted that he was included into the Top 100 Living Geniuses list.  Curious about the list, I checked it out.

Compiled in 2007, the list ranked the greatest living thinkers of our time, no less.

The list was compiled by a panel of six experts in creativity and innovation from Creators Synectics, a global consultants firm.

The company emailed 4,000 Britons in the summer of 2007 asking them to nominate up to 10 living people they considered geniuses. Each nominee was then awarded scores out of ten against criteria which included: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance.   It comes as no  surprise that proportionately more Brits got nominated than people from other countries.

My understanding is that the 4000 Brits were chosen randomly and do not necessarily have any expertise in evaluating human genius.

Judge for yourself. Here is the 2007 genius list:

1= Albert Hoffman (Swiss) Chemist 27
1= Tim Berners-Lee (British) Computer Scientist 27
3 George Soros (American) Investor & Philanthropist 25
4 Matt Groening (American) Satirist & Animator 24
5= Nelson Mandela (South African) Politician & Diplomat 23
5= Frederick Sanger (British) Chemist 23
7= Dario Fo (Italian) Writer & Dramatist 22
7= Steven Hawking (British) Physicist 22
9= Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian) Architect 21
9= Philip Glass (American) Composer 21
9= Grigory Perelman (Russian) Mathematician 21
12= Andrew Wiles (British) Mathematician 20
12= Li Hongzhi (Chinese) Spiritual Leader 20
12= Ali Javan (Iranian) Engineer 20
15= Brian Eno (British) Composer 19
15= Damian Hirst  (British) Artist 19
15= Daniel Tammet (British) Savant & Linguist 19
18 Nicholson Baker (American Writer 18
19 Daniel Barenboim (N/A) Musician 17
20= Robert Crumb (American) Artist 16
20= Richard Dawkins (British) Biologist and philosopher 16
20= Larry Page & Sergey Brin (American) Publishers 16
20= Rupert Murdoch (American) Publisher 16
20= Geoffrey Hill (British) Poet 16
25 Garry Kasparov (Russian) Chess Player 15
26= The Dalai Lama (Tibetan) Spiritual Leader 14
26= Steven Spielberg (American) Film maker 14
26= Hiroshi Ishiguro (Japanese) Roboticist 14
26= Robert Edwards (British) Pioneer of IVF treatment 14
26= Seamus Heaney (Irish) Poet 14
31 Harold Pinter (British) Writer & Dramatist 13
32= Flossie Wong-Staal (Chinese) Bio-technologist 12
32= Bobby Fischer (American) Chess Player 12
32= Prince (American) Musician 12
32= Henrik Gorecki (Polish) Composer 12
32= Avram Noam Chomski (American) Philosopher & linguist 12
32= Sebastian Thrun (German) Probabilistic roboticist 12
32= Nima Arkani Hamed (Canadian) Physicist 12
32= Margaret Turnbull (American) Astrobiologist 12
40= Elaine Pagels (American) Historian 11
40= Enrique Ostrea (Philippino) Pediatrics & neonatology 11
40= Gary Becker (American) Economist 11
43= Mohammed Ali (American) Boxer 10
43= Osama Bin Laden  (Saudi) Islamicist 10
43= Bill Gates (American) Businessman 10
43= Philip Roth (American) Writer 10
43= James West (American) Invented the foil electrical microphone 10
43= Tuan Vo-Dinh (Vietnamese) Bio-Medical Scientist 10
49= Brian Wilson (American) Musician 9
49= Stevie Wonder (American) Singer songwriter 9
49= Vint Cerf (American) Computer scientist 9
49= Henry Kissinger (American) Diplomat and politician 9
49= Richard Branson (British) Publicist 9
49= Pardis Sabeti (Iranian) Biological anthropologist 9
49= Jon de Mol (Dutch) Television producer 9
49= Meryl Streep (American) Actress 9
49= Margaret Attwood (Canadian) Writer 9
58= Placido Domingo (Spanish) Singer 8
58= John Lasseter (American) Digital Animator 8
58= Shunpei Yamazaki (Japanese) Computer scientist & physicist 8
58= Jane Goodall (British) Ethologist & Anthropologist 8
58= Kirti Narayan Chaudhuri (Indian) Historian 8
58= John Goto (British) Photographer 8
58= Paul McCartney (British) Musician 8
58= Stephen King (American) Writer 8
58= Leonard Cohen (Canadian) Poet & musician 8
67= Aretha Franklin (American) Musician 7
67= David Bowie (British) Musician 7
67= Emily Oster (American) Economist 7
67= Steve Wozniak (American) Engineer and co-founder of Apple Computers 7
67= Martin Cooper (American) Inventor of the cell phone 7
72= George Lucas (American) Film maker 6
72= Niles Rogers (American) Musician 6
72= Hans Zimmer (German) Composer 6
72= John Williams (American) Composer 6
72= Annette Baier (New Zealander) Philosopher 6
72= Dorothy Rowe (British) Psychologist 6
72= Ivan Marchuk  (Ukrainian) Artist & sculptor 6
72= Robin Escovado (American) Composer 6
72= Mark Dean (American) Inventor & computer scientist 6
72= Rick Rubin (American) Musician & producer 6
72= Stan Lee (American) Publisher 6
83= David Warren (Australian) Engineer 5
83= Jon Fosse (Norwegian) Writer & dramatist
83= Gjertrud Schnackenberg (American) Poet 5
83= Graham Linehan (Irish) Writer & dramatist 5
83= JK Rowling (British) Writer 5
83= Ken Russell (British) Film maker 5
83= Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Russian) Small arms designer 5
83= Erich Jarvis (American) Neurobiologist 5
91=. Chad Varah (British) Founder of Samaritans 4
91= Nicolas Hayek (Swiss) Businessman and founder of Swatch 4
91= Alastair Hannay (British) Philosopher 4
94= Patricia Bath (American) Ophthalmologist
94= Thomas A. Jackson (American) Aerospace engineer 3
94= Dolly Parton (American) Singer 3
94= Morissey (British) Singer 3
94= Michael Eavis (British) Organiser of Glastonbury 3
94= Ranulph Fiennes (British) Adventurer 3
100=. Quentin Tarantino (American) Filmmaker 2

Honestly, I was slightly disappointed to find Damian Hirst, whose “art” I abhor, pretty high on the list. That is to say nothing about, of all people, Osama bin Laden, categorized as an Islamicist by occupation

I don’t know whether or not The Telegraph attempted to engage Creators Synectics to compile similar lists between 2007 and now, and if yes, then what some randomly chosen 4000 Brits decided.  The world and Brits have changed since.

 

Michelangelo of Microsoft Excel

www.spoon-tamago.comFor over 15 years, Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi has rendered the subtle details of mountains, cherry blossoms, and dense forests with the most unlikely tool: Microsoft Excel. The 77-year-old illustrator shunned the idea of paying for expensive painting supplies or even a basic drawing program for his computer, saying that he prefers Excel even over Microsoft Paint because it has “more functions and is easier to use.” www.spoon-tamago.com

www.spoon-tamago.comUsing simple vector drawing tools developed primarily for graphs and simple shapes, Horiuchi instead draws panoramic scenes of life in rural Japan.

 

Chained To History

 

Artist imprisoned by ‘weight of history’ freed after 3 weeks (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)A Belgian performance artist, Mikes Poppe, chained to a block of marble for 20 days, became the victim of his own artistic metaphor when he had to be cut loose from the installation.

The eccentric artist created the project to demonstrate that it’s not possible to escape the burden of history.  Indeed, it isn’t. Mikes was unable to chisel himself free of the stone structure as originally intended.

“My performance has different layers of meaning,” he told VRT NWS beforehand. “For me marble is the sculpture, I chain myself to a piece of history, I take art history with me, and at the same time I build on it and let it go again.”

Poppe attached himself to a block of Carrara marble in the courthouse of Ostend, Belgium on November 10. He remained chained to the block 24 hours a day with no phone or computer for outside communication.

Besides working to break himself free, Poppe spent the remainder of his time eating, sleeping and drawing.

Poppe describes himself as an artist-cum-terrorist. He lasted 438 hours attached to the marble block by a 10 feet (about 3 meters) chain. He tried his darnedest to chisel away the stone, to no avail.

Entitled De Profundis, Poppe’s performance was part of a larger exhibition curated by Joanna De Vos. “This is not a failure, but a positive story,” De Vos said. Well, it depends on a point of view, I’d say.

The work, according to the Poppe’s intent, aims to show the life of an artist in a state of terminal loneliness and extreme concentration. Five cameras recorded the artist throughout the entire performance and broadcast online.

 

 

Dada, Surréalisme et au-delà

On 21 October in Paris, Sotheby’s offered for sale the collection of Dr. Arthur Brandt, whose passion and appreciation for Dada and Surrealism is reflected in this auction. Highlights include numerous works by Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters as well as a major work by Francis Picabia and others by Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, and Max Ernst.

The auction has now ended, with a grand total of €21.5 million.

All right then. Let’s take a look at Dada, Surréalisme et au-delà, particularly at the two out of several works of  Marcel Duchamp. Above is his “L.H.O.O.R”. Quoting Wikipedia:

In 1919, Duchamp made a parody of the Mona Lisa by adorning a cheap reproduction of the painting with a mustache and goatee. To this he added the inscription L.H.O.O.Q., a phonetic game which, when read out loud in French quickly sounds like “Elle a chaud au cul”. This can be translated as “She has a hot ass”, implying that the woman in the painting is in a state of sexual excitement and availability. It may also have been intended as a Freudian joke, referring to Leonardo da Vinci‘s alleged homosexuality. Duchamp gave a “loose” translation of L.H.O.O.Q. as “there is fire down below” in a late interview with Arturo Schwarz. According to Rhonda Roland Shearer, the apparent Mona Lisa reproduction is in fact a copy modeled partly on Duchamp’s own face.[33] Research published by Shearer also speculates that Duchamp himself may have created some of the objects which he claimed to be “found objects”.

On October 21, L.H.O.O.Q fetched a whooping 631,500 euros. Gasp.

Dada artists are known for their use of ready-made objects — everyday objects that could be bought and presented as art with little manipulation by the artist. The use of the ready-made forced questions about artistic creativity and the very definition of art and its purpose in society.

Indeed, L.H.O.O.Q manifests remarkably little manipulation by the artist upon the ready-made object — a cheap print of La Joconde! Just harping.

Boîte-en-valise, yet another Duchamp, is a portable museum containing 68 of his most famous works, either reproduced or miniaturised, has been sold  for €319,500.

Dada was the first conceptual art movement where the focus of the artists was not on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects but on making works that often upended bourgeois sensibilities and that generated difficult questions about society, the role of the artist, and the purpose of art.

And what a remarkably cheap and time-and-effort-consuming method to achieve such a noble goal! Makes me, a skeptic lacking of appreciation for Dadaism, wonder if Dadaists themselves defined their intentions while “crafting their art”.  Numerous art critics say yes and more:

So intent were members of Dada on opposing all norms of bourgeois culture that the group was barely in favor of itself: “Dada is anti-Dada,” they often cried.

The video clip below features the entire Collection Arthur Brandt : Dada, Surréalisme et au-delà, courtesy of Sotheby’s site:

//players.brightcove.net/104524641001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5604643841001